PHOENIX - Rose Epstein of Sun City West says she deserves the right to die like a dog.
“We have compassion on our dogs, but we don’t allow people, who are more than dogs, to make such an important decision for themselves,” said Epstein, who joined more than 100 demonstrators at a right-to-die march Wednesday at the State Capitol.
“I believe that the issue of the right-to-die movement will be the civil rights issue of our time,” Rep. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson, told supporters and onlookers.
Lopez is primary sponsor of HB 2387, a bill that would allow Arizona physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to patients who have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses. It’s modeled on a physician-assisted suicide law approved by Oregon voters.
According to the Ohio-based International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, a nonprofit organization opposed to assisted suicide, nearly two dozen states have seen similar bills fail in the past several years.
It’s Lopez’s sixth time introducing such legislation. This year’s bill has yet to be referred to a committee.
Peter Gentala, general council for the Center for Arizona Policy, a group promoting conservative values, said a doctor’s duty is helping patients manage pain, not end their lives.
“The role of the physician is healer, so when you totally change that by authorizing physicians to take peoples lives, it alarms people,” Gentala said.
Gentala noted that the Arizona Medical Association and American Medical Association are against physician-assisted suicide.
Lopez said many Arizona doctors support physician-assisted suicide.
“Just like the Catholic Church doesn’t speak for all Catholics, the Arizona Medical Association doesn’t speak for all its members,” Lopez said.
Lopez said the measure may never reach committee but might wind up on the ballot because of growing public support.